Hinckley, MN – Queens-born, Minneapolis-based slugger Phil Williams lost a close fight to tough and wily veteran Matt Vanda tonight at Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota.
Williams (11-2 with 10 knockouts) boxed well, landing effective counters and hard single shots that occasionally thrilled the crowd, but Vanda prevailed by virtue of his unbreakable chin, superior workrate, and some showmanship that got the sellout crowd on his side.
Vanda started strong – pressing the action, pursuing Williams around the ring, and occasionally taunting the larger, more powerful Williams. Williams looked best in the late rounds, especially in eight and ten, surprisingly hanging in with the smaller but busier man and landing bombs that would have flattened a lesser opponent.
Vanda, a 13-year veteran with a 42-9 record (22 wins by knockout), was supposed to be a step-up opponent for Williams, who was coming off a thrilling 7th-round knockout win against former contender Antwun Echols. Instead, Vanda won his third straight bout – the first time Vanda has won three straight since 2005-06.
The good news is that Williams could have won – would have scored more – if he had just let his hands go. It looked like Vanda’s experience and bravado allowed him to get inside Williams’ head. Williams dished out plenty of punishment, but Vanda was just the wrong opponent – a tough-as-nails veteran who is always fit and loves to trade isn’t the best match for an inexperienced slugger. But the fight was an exciting back-and-forth affair, and Williams gave boxing fans the kind of fight they love, if not the result that his own fans had hoped for.
In other action on tonight’s card:
- Wilton “The Pretty Warrior” Hilario of the Dominican Republic improved to 12-0 with 9 knockouts by thoroughly dominating the usually slick and elusive Leon Bobo of St Louis, MO. Bobo’s record fell to 18-4. The result was a unanimous decision in Hilario’s favor.
- Undefeated prospect Ceresso Fort of St Paul and 6-4-1 Lamar Harris of Saint Louis engaged in a tremendously entertaining brawl, with Fort (now 8-0 with 7 knockouts) winning by unanimous decision. Fort was credited with a knockdown in the first and generally controlled the first half of the bout, but Harris came on in the last three rounds.
- Former top-ranked amateur Javontae Starks of Minneapolis made his professional debut, winning by second-round TKO over Dan Copp. Starks felt Copp out for a round, then tore into him in the second. Starks hit Copp with a body shot that put Copp (now 1-2) down on his knees, moaning in agony.
- Tim Taggart (3-2-1) and Sam Morales (3-3-1 battled to an entertaining draw in a four-rounder. Morales seemed to get the better of Taggart, but the judges made it a majority draw.
- Zach Schumach got his first pro win, improving to 1-2, against Don Tierney (now 1-1). Tierney, interestingly, had former IBO world junior welterweight titleholder Mike Evgen in his corner – unfortunately for Tierney, Evgen had to stay in the corner.